The Nakshatras

Though I’m a western astrologer, I frequently use the nakshatras from the Hindu system of astrology. Just as sun signs can describe the basic temperament of a person, in the eastern tradition, the nakshatras do much the same.

The nakshatras divide the sky into 27 sections of 13 degrees 20 minutes, based on the sidereal period of the moon. It takes twenty-seven days for the moon to orbit around the earth and return to its zodiacal position in the natal chart (27.36 days / 360 degrees = 13°20’ divisions of the circle), so each nakshatra represents a lunar day.

Before you can use the nakshatra descriptions below, you must first convert the tropical position to the sidereal position.

If you use Kepler software, enter your chart as normal, then click on the Vedic icon. This will open up the Vedic workshop, converting your planets into the sidereal positions. In Solar Fire, there is a toggle icon which allows you to switch back and forth between the sidereal positions and the Western tropical. If you don’t have astrology software, allows you to change the zodiac you’re using in the “extended chart selection” of the free horoscopes. Or if you know the position of your planets, here’s a handy guide to look up the sidereal positions.

Ashwini 0° – 13°20’ Aries
Symbol: Horse/mare. Ruled by Ketu. Diety: kumaras, or a youthful boy or prince. Sun is exalted here. Associated with the charioteers of the dawn, twin sons of the sun. Race horses, on the move, adventurous, trailblazers, quick intellect (especially with moon here), hasty/impulsive so can lose ground with mistakes. Healers, medical miracles, doctors, patients with medical miracles. Might like horses – horse breeders, riders, etc. Purity of martian action and activity. Can be successful both materially and spiritually. Spirtual path: healing and shamanism.

Bharani 13°20’ – 26°40’ Aries
Symbol: yoni, Diety: Yama, the god of death. Saturn is debilitated here. Ruled by Venus. Shakti, the passive female power. Barer of new life, creativity, the womb, childbirth, force needed to push child out. People here feel constraint and confinement. They’re here to push past obstacles so they can achieve their dreams. The ending of one chapter of life and seed of the new life: inner strength, transformation, and rebirth. Love and support for all living things. Spiritual path: may be intense and violent. Living life without compromise and being open to transformation. Understanding and practicing sexuality may be important gateway into mysteries of life.

Krittika 26°40 Aries – 10° Taurus
Symbol: Razor/knife. Agni: diety of fire. Krittkaya: General in the heavenly army. Ruled by sun, moon exhalted here at 3° Taurus. Associated with the golden rays of the sun (illumination) and with destruction to purify (fire). Cuts through to get to the truth. Illuminating intellect, discoverers, fiery passion, warriors, social causes, missions. Power and war, a malefic nashaktra so planets here need to be guided toward its positive attributes. Angi: digestive fire, needed for life. Spiritual path: the way of the warrior, martial arts can be helpful, not a path of safety or comfort but one in which pure motives are necessary.

Rohini 10° – 23°20’ Taurus
Red one/growing one. Symbol: Chariot. Deity: Prajapati, lord of created beings. Moon exalted and ruler here. Brahmins. Chandra’s (the moon god) favorite wife. Beauty, artistic talent. Abundant placement, emotionally and materially. Enjoy material pleasures and can have success in life. Enjoy movement and travel. Sensual, dance, art. Danger here is you neglect the spiritual side of life. Spiritual path: embracing life, enjoying all aspects of existence, and reaching harmony in the process, bhakti (devotional love).

Mrigashira 23°20’ Taurus – 6°40’ Gemini
Symbol: Head of a deer/antelope. Diety: Soma, aspect of the moon goddess. Ruled by mars. Hunting, traveling, sensitive, fickle. Gentle, charming, changeable, shy, peaceful, perceptive, nervous, fears confrontation, need security and safety. Hard time letting go of things that make them feel safe. Mentally restless. In timing, when moon is here it is a favorable period for love and romance. Spiritual path: associated w/ travel, so a spiritual seeker with a romantic nature.

Ardra 6°40’Gemini – 20° Gemini
Symbol: Diamond. A challenging nashkatra. Moist one. A tear. Goddess: Rudra, goddess of storms/destruction/thunder, a manifestion of Shiva. Ruled by Rahu. New growth by removing old rubbish. Process of inner destruction of all qualities not aligned with their true self. People with significant placements here go through a fair amount of loss and pain. Work in helping fields. May not see the destruction as a chance for a new life, but focus on the loss. Need to focus on the new possibilities to regenerate. Knows both heaven and hell, does not like a superficial life. Spiritual path: intense life, profound therapies like bioenergetics and intense psychotherapy. Can be one of the most spiritual nashaktras.

Punarvasu 20° Gemini – 3°20’ Cancer
Symbol: quiver, bow; Diety: Aditi, mother of the twelve gods and the twelve months, the goddess of abundance, female representation of eternity. Ruled by Jupiter. Reasonable, philosophical, material well-being. (De Looff: Punarvasu means prosperous. Sutton: Vasu means brilliant, Punar means again.) Learning to assert their wills and develop their latent talents. They’re on a quest. They need to travel and to develop inner knowledge and wisdom. They have a sense of adventure, spirit of freedom. Desire to still have a place to come home to. Associated w/ poetry. Wisdom is later to be shared with others: the transfer of the spiritual to the material. Philosophy, religion, spiritual quest, wants self-understanding. Spiritual path: involves gaining wisdom, traveling (literally and physically) and having a safe home base.

Pusha 3°20’ – 16°40’ Cancer
Symbol: Cow udder/flower/arrow/circle. Deity: Brihispati, priest and teacher of the gods. Ruled by Saturn, Jupiter exalted here. Sutton: Pusha means holy, pure, auspicious. Nourishment. Wants to nourish other people. Teachers, philosophers, priests. Nourish others by sharing information and knowledge. Good speakers. They’re trying to become whole. It and Rohini are the best nakshatras for this material life and events planned with the moon in these nakshatras won’t fail. Brings wisdom and abundance. Can suffer from obesity. Spiritual path: Gaining wisdom, involvement with religion, and enjoying the good things in life.

Ashlesha 16°40’ Cancer – 30° Cancer
Symbol: snakes. Deity: Nagas/Sarpas, snakes that have great occult power. Ruled by Mercury. Penetrating intellect. Want to penetrate the depths of others souls. Very cunning and secretive. However, underneath shrewd exterior, they are internally insecure and very vulnerable. May lie to cover up this softness. Mystical bent. Has capacity for good or bad: personal power or self-destuction. Kundalini energy. Yoga good for Ashlesha types. Spiritual path: Stay critical of one’s ego and use yoga, explore one’s ego-centered ways and motivations.

Magha 0° – 13°20 Leo
Symbol: House/crown. Deity: Pitris, the forefathers, ancestors. Ruled by Ketu. Meaning: mighty and great. Star of leadership (Regulus here), noble people, people of authority, big-hearted diplomats, traditional/conservative. People here hold onto family traditions and rituals. Can indication fame, prosperity. Spiritual path: study of the legacy of humanity, ancient philosophies, and applying it to modern situations. Spiritual path: Dharma, accepting responsibility.

Purva Phalguni 13°20 Leo – 26°40 Leo
Symbol: A bed, Deity: Bhaga, the god of conjugal bliss, luck, and prosperity. Ruled by Venus/female. Protects marital happiness and family inheritances. Love being around family. Domestic life is paramount for these people. They see divinity in family life and day-to-day tasks. They tend to be very laid back. Not worriers, they rely on luck to get by. Because they have passionate natures, they can be promiscuous, loving. Rest, relaxation, and enjoyment. Passive, going-with-the flow attitude. Spiritual path: the domestic life and the enjoyment of life. They see the sacred it daily life.

Uttara Phalguni 26°40 Leo – 10° Virgo
Symbol: Legs of a cot. Deity: Aryaman, god of kindness and friendship. Ruling planet: sun/male. Like being around others but focus on partnership/marriage. Can be codependent on partner and give power away. Great friends, very kind, invested in helping others. Need to put themselves first more often. Love, sexuality, helpfulness. Leadership qualities, courage in the face of adversity. Constellation can be known for sexual scandals. Spiritual path: the domestic life, enjoyment of life, and helping people outside of the family as well.

Hasta 10° – 23°20’ Virgo
Symbol: Open/closed hand. Deity: Sabitar, manifestion of the sun/creativity. Planet ruling is the moon. Service-oriented but more balanced. Go after what they want. Can manifest easily, but can hold on longer than is necessary or good for them. Good craftsmen and artists, especially if using hands. Cleverness can work for or against them, depending on moral backbone. Can grow in different directions. Sutton: conflict from outside world—limiting their ability to get what they want—and creating a crises. Skillful, intelligent, humorous, creative. Spiritual path: creativity is a pathway for them as is service to the community.

Chitra 23°20 Virgo – 6°40’ Libra
Symbol: Pearl God: Vishnakarma/Tvashtar, the heavenly architect. Ruled by Mars. Spica, Chitra means bright/shining. Charismatic, dynamic, creative. They like being the center of attention and being different. (Moon and ascendant tend to be more reserved, save dynamism for those closest to them.) They tend to be good looking. Art, architecture talents, gift for form and function. Good taste, expensive taste. People with Chitra needs to open to the true self and let the ego die: need to cut away the layers from the true self. Spiritual path: the way of the artist and meditations on the self.

Swati 6°40’ – 20° Libra
Symbol: Blade of grass in the wind. Goddess: Vayu, god of the wind and life breath. Ruled by Rahu. Learning rules. Flexible and adaptable. Delicate but striving for independence. Can be restless. Intense curiosity and sweet of speech. Good placement for business, and a desire for material abundance. Sensitive and fragile, moral character can be not very high. Spiritual path: to develop a philosophy that anchors and guides them.

Vishakha 20° Libra – 3°20’ Scorpio
Symbol: an arch/potters wheel. Deity: Agni and Indra: fire god and warrior king. Ruled by Jupiter. These people have the energy and strength to set goals and the ambition to go after them. Unrelenting, extremely ambitious. They can experience frustration and repressed anger if they are blocked from what they want. Can use others as a means to an end. They’re learning to be aware of other people. Conquest of enemies, courage, fighting. Spiritual path: the way of the warrior and to ensure his goals serve all of humanity or just his own self.

Anuradha 3°20’ – 16°40’ Scorpio
Symbol: Lotus. Deity: Mitra, the god of light and friendship. Ruled by Saturn. People with planets here are ambitious and goal-driven but the work cooperatively. Good leaders and organizers of others. Lotus has its roots in the mud (unconsciousness), water (emotions), but daylight penetrates and blossoms. These people are looking for a divine spark so they work on unconscious motivations and have a blossoming of their true self. Spiritual path: practicing dynamic meditation in which the unconscious is brought to the surface, psychotherapy.

Jyeshtha 16°40’ – 30° Scorpio
Symbol: Circular amulet/umbrella. Deity: Indra, the king of the gods, a warrior. Ruling planet is Mercury. The chief, eldest, senior-most, the wise elders. Lots of wisdom and knowledge. The eldest in the family or takes on the role of the eldest. Tends to have the senior-most position in jobs, etc. Seniority in general. Protects others from adversity and has a lot of daring. Wants honor and respect. Can bring wealth. Spiritual path: the warrior’s path and accepting responsibility and authority.

Mula 0° – 13°20’ Sagittarius
Symbol: Roots tied together/tail of a lion. Deity: Kali/Nrrita, destroyer of illusion, disintegration. Ruling planet is Ketu. Inquisitive, exploring the roots of all subjects want to get to the hidden reasons. Medicine (herbology, alternative medicine), scientists and philosophers. They’re here to let go of any ideas that bind them. Anger and power issues can be here. Calamity happens and they experience loss. Calamities force them to go within and take a harsh, uncompromising look at themselves and to get back on track and to their true selves.

Purva Shadha 13°20 – 26°40’ Sagittarius
Symbol: Elephant’s tusk. Deity: Apas, water god. Ruled by Venus. Victorious in their struggles. Patience, wait out storms. Emotional depth, empathetic, and strongly intuitive. Ability to see into others problems and help them purify or cleanse themselves. Can also see into their own problems so they can move past discord. Empathetic ability allows them to relate to the feeling level of public, so they can become well-known and successful. Ability to improve one’s personal circumstances. Can be unsettled and shifting directions, can be moody and can be hard to understand. The revelation of the inner faculties, the tusk of beautiful and valued. Lives in danger of losing its most valued possessions. Declarations of war often occur in this nashaktras. Spiritual path: purification of the ego and intense emotions should lead one to meditation.

Uttara Shadha 26°40’ Sagittarius – 10° Capricorn
Symbol: Elephant tusk/bed planks Deity: Ganesha, the remover of obstacles and blocks (De Looff and Sutton: Vishwedevas or universal gods, honesty, ambition and power). Ruler: the sun. Advocates. The strength to pull upon to assist themselves and others on working on inner blocks. Perceptive intellect and insight. Can see what blocks people, so make good counselors. Also confronting the challenging aspects of themselves. Use penetration to see through and leave behind the blocks. Leads to a confrontation w/ various human weaknesses so they can move beyond them. Planks: austere beds, resting to get in touch with god. Spiritual path: to move beyond powerful emotions.

Shravana 10° – 23°20’ Capricorn
Symbol: ear/arrow. Deity: Vishnu, the preserver of the universe. Ruling planet: the moon. Listening, speaking and teaching. A need for quietness and reflection. A need for peace. Austereness. Meditative awareness. Star of learning and hearing. Interest in preserving sacred knowledge and traditions, especial oral. Communicate it orally. Good listeners, writers, and teachers. Focus on words. Good w/ foreign languages. Sensitive to gossips and other people’s opinions. Spiritual path: the way of listening and gaining knowledge/deep understanding. Should lead to meditation. Person may become a guru themselves.

Dhanishta 23°20’ Capricorn – 6°40 Aquarius
Symbol: Flute/drum. Abundance, wealth, optimism. Deities: the 8 Vasus. Ruling planet: Mars. Charitable and kind. A richness of life. (Flute = ego/the shell, air = divine energy: combination is music.) Listening to the messages of the divine, the love of music, singing, chanting, musicians. Discord in marriages, often delays. Fulfilling others dreams for you rather than your own. The hollowing out can lead one to feel empty: must use divinity to fill oneself and not try to fill the hole with other things. Spiritual Path: the path of the musician through whom Krishna or Shiva flows through.

Shatabhishak 6°40’ – 20° Aquarius
Symbol: 100 Healers/empty circle/1000-petaled flower. Deity: Varuna, god of the water god of night. Ruling planet: Rahu. Healers often experience crises—physical or mental—that are vehicles for internal growth that forces them to become healers themselves (healing crisis). Capacity to tap into the divine wisdom through inner vision or dreams. The circle equals wholeness through healing, seclusion and unity. Needs seclusion and privacy to tap into the universe. Need meditation, private time, and separateness in relationships. Secrets, alcohol, philosophical, idealism. The letting go of form and cosmic unity. Spiritual path: the path of unity and connection to the cosmos…silent meditation.

Purva Bhadra 20° Aquarius – 3°20 Pisces
Symbol: sword/funeral cot or pyre. Deity: Aja Ekapada, god in the shape of a goat/manifestation of a ruhdra, storms/thunder. Ruled by Jupiter. Literally: happy feet. Passion, fascination of the dark side of life, transformation, courageous. Have lots of energy that needs to be directed carefully. Can be raging or overly-ambitious. Needs to be satisfied with what they have. Original thinkers, focused on vision for future. Dislike social restraits. Go through death/rebirth within life. Set aside own concerns to serve humanity. Hot, fiery, impulsive, thoughtless. Spiritual path: powerful therapeutic methods, clear goals.

Uttara Bhadra 3°20’ – 16°40’ Pisces
Symbol: snake in water/twins. Deity: Ahir Budhyana. Ruling planet: Saturn. These people protect others close to them. They like to explore the depths. Science, mystical leanings, seclusion/stillness, psychology, secretive. Adept at tantra. Need to tap into kudalini. Wisdom, self-sacrifice, transformation of anger. They have a depth of emotion that can blow up on them. Need to vent them so they don’t build. Spiritual path: meditation.

Revati 16°40’ – 30° Pisces
Symbol: fish. Deity: Pushan, the god of nourishment and safe travel. Ruled by Mercury. (Re- to move, vati – beyond) Represents nourishment and protection. The wealthy: prosperity on all levels. Adaptability in life. Highly empathetic, intuitive, psychic. Want to nurture others and make them feel better. Want to assist, alleviate others’ suffering. Tend to take care of others more than they do themselves. They can experience disappointments because the world doesn’t live up to their ideals. Good time to start a journey when the moon is in this nashaktra. Reliable friends, protectors of others. Spiritual path: traveling and taking care of others, the way of compassion and unconditional love.

The above descriptions have been distilled from the following sources:

  • Kamilla Sutton’s Essentials of Vedic Astrology
  • Roeland de Looff’s correspondence course material adapted for the Avalon School of Astrology.
  • Robert De Luce’s Constellational Astrology According to the Hindu System
  • Tishelle Betterman’s Nashaktra lecture available on NORWAC 2006 tape